Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Writers Challenge—Assemble Your Dream Team!

Who would you put on your writing dream team?
I admit it, I’m hooked on the TV show, Castle. The main character, Richard Castle is a larger than life writer. He’s the talented, rich alter ego most of us dream of being. He lives in New York City and meets with several other famous writers for a weekly poker game.

It’s that fictional weekly poker game that got me thinking. I couldn’t resist, I began to compile my own list of famous writers. These are the secret crushes I’ve harbored for years—those I’d love to hang out with on a regular basis. In my mind, every time I write a story I secretly wonder how it would stand up during a discussion with my dream team.

Have I piqued your curiosity? No worries, I’ll share all.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weekend Worship—Energized or Enervated: The Power of Words

These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on. Luke 6:46-47 (The Message)
I get a lot of joy from the blogs I follow. They bring energy when I’m down and life to an otherwise lackluster day. These are frequently written by people I’ve worked with or met at conferences or who’ve been in my classes. Be warned, if you’ve been one of my students, I do keep up with you.

Many have commented that they wonder how I keep up with so many. I readily admit I don’t read every blog, every day. If I did, I’d never get anything done.

But I do pay attention to the post titles and try to pay attention to that gentle tap on my spiritual shoulder when I need to stop and read one. It’s ALWAYS a blessing. God has spoken to me so clearly through so many of you. I wish I had the time to tell each of you in person how you’ve impacted my life. I know I could never adequately explain, so my prayer is that, in Heaven, you’ll get to see the result of your faithfulness.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Life Lessons—Mining for Gold

by Reba J. Hoffman

Gold doesn't hang from the trees.
What would you do if you could walk outside and gold would be hanging from the trees and sprouting from the grass? You’d stop reading this blog post right now (sorry Edie), grab a bucket and head outside, right? Of course you would.

Well, while gold isn’t hanging like an ornament from the oak tree in your front yard, writer’s gold is everywhere. Great authors take advantage of that wealth, understand it on a deep level and invest in its growth.

Each and every day of life is chocked full of precious golden nuggets of truth and wisdom. And yet writers—and people in general—expend an overwhelming amount of energy trying to avoid it.

I wrote this in one of my books of long ago: True wisdom is forged on the anvil of suffering. It’s absolutely true. All the hardships you face in life hammer out a wisdom that will be intricately and uniquely woven into the fabric of your story. But, it’s completely up to you whether or not you mine for it.

Here are some steps you can take to turn the calamity in your life into award winning novels.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Review—Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel

Today's blog is a guest post from my friend, and fellow My Book Therapy Core Team member, Michelle Lim. Her new book on brainstorming is a great resource for writers and I'm excited to introduce her to you today!

Brainstorming, a Tool for ALL Writers!
by Michelle Lim

Brainstorming is an essential tool for writers in all different areas of their career. I often hear people ask me, “How do you come up with blog topics?”

My ideas often come from the inspiring things in my world, physical as well as visual. I love to go and look at different online pictures. Sometimes they inspire blogs I’ve written like, DoYou Have What It Takes to Be Chicken? 

Other times, I look at my life and draw inspiration from my kids, family and house. These have inspired blogs like, Rearrangingthe Furniture: How to Rearrange Words To Give Them Punch.  

Events are also helpful in planning blog topics. I look for things that are important to my audience, paying particular attention to what's going on in the world around us. That’s why blogs on conferences, the Olympics, and writing contests are all popular.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Social Media Monday—Social Media & the Law of Diminishing Returns

Social Networks are as hard to number
as a charm of Hummingbirds!

At the time I'm publishing this blog, there are approximately 40 large social media platforms and networks. I say approximately because counting them is about as hard as numbering a charm (flock) of humming birds. And they come and go almost as quickly.

Trying to chase down and join all the networks is not only impossible, it’s completely counterproductive. As writers, we need to remember the purpose of social networking, and it’s not to make a career as a marketer. It’s the means to an end—actually a couple of ends. Our goal with social media needs to stay focused on two thing:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekend Worship—Does How I Spend My Time Truly Reflect What I View as Important?

A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. Ecclesiastes 3:2

I love exploring old cemeteries
This weekend we spent time exploring old churchyards, and the cemeteries that populate them, in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. I was fascinated with the bits and pieces of life hinted at on the carved tombstones. I love history, but this went even deeper.

It made me consider the hectic pace of life, and the things I might be missing.

As we wandered through these memorial grounds, I wanted to know why families chose the markers they did. Some were plain, some ornate, others almost works of art. Was the tombstone chosen based on how much those left behind had to spend, or was it some commentary on how well the deceased had been loved? Truthfully, it was probably a multiple of factors, but I found myself oddly comforted as I walked through these peaceful places.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Life Lessons—Killing Time, A Dangerous Pursuit

by Reba J Hoffman
Life was slower when I was growing up
I grew up in a slower time. Summers seem to stretch on forever. My friends and I would go down to the creek on a lazy Sunday afternoon. We’d skip rocks across the water, swing from a rope, splash into the deep end, and dry off in the sunshine while gazing at clouds. When I got home and was asked what I’d been doing, my answer was always, “killing time.”
Today is a much different world. I have gray hair and a few extra pounds. I’d injure myself if I swung on that rope and there is absolutely not a single second to, ummm, “kill”.
With every passing day I’m reminded of what a gift life is and how my days are numbered. Even if I live to be a hundred, I’m on the down slope. When I was young, I really thought life was forever. I was invincible. Immortal. Today I know that I’m not even guaranteed tomorrow.
Being faced with that truth, I learned a few things I’d like to share:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday Review—To NaNo or Not? NaNoWriMo Decoded

NaNoWriMo Celebrates Writing & Writers!

In the month of October, among those whose heart’s desire is to write a novel, thoughts turn to November and the dilemma of NaNoWriMo. For the uneducated, November has long become know as National Novel Writing Month—NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is an idea that has exploded in popularity. The idea is that you write the first draft (minimum of 50,000 words) of a novel in one month. At first this may sound ridiculous, but many writing instructors advocate writing your first draft quickly, without editing. James Scott Bell encourages this in his book, The Art of War for Writers. I highly recommend this book, by the way and it was the very first book reviewed on this blog. Curious to learn more? Click here to read the review.

So how do you get involved with NaNoWriMo?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Social Media Monday—Drive Traffic to Your Blog Using Twitter

I’ve never met anyone who has a blog and doesn’t want it to grow. One of the best ways to see that growth is to spend a little bit of time with Twitter. With the judicious use of Hashtags and a little consistent tweeting you can add another layer to your blog audience. Here’s how:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekend Worship—Peaceful Paths for Troubling Thoughts

Every word of God is true. He guards those who come to him for safety. Proverbs 30:5

I love being outside, but I’m not a big fan of flying insects. Particularly irritating are those swarms of gnats that sometimes come out of nowhere and surround me. It invariable happens when I’m in the middle of something, when it’s not convenient to move away. But convenient or not, that’s the only way I’ve found to get rid of them. I’ve tried batting at them, waving my arms around like I’m trying to take off. I only end up looking like a fool. The only way I’ve found to get rid of them is to take action, to move down a different path.

My thoughts are like that. Sometimes they get stuck on the most ridiculous track, swarming around lies or topics that have no relationship to truth, and no business being in my mind. They circle around my best intentions, overpowering my puny efforts to bat them away. As with the gnats, the only way I’ve found to battle these errant thoughts is to move down a different path.

The way I’ve found to break this cycle is through Scripture. I focus on God and His word. The strength of God’s Word moves me past my troubling thoughts and into more peaceful paths.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Life Lessons—5 Reasons You Should NOT Quit!

by Reba J. Hoffman

Don't quit on your dream!

In my blog post, Three Feet From Gold, I talk about how close a person may be to their dream when they abandon it.
It’s sad, really, but fortunately you don’t have to quit. In fact, most of the time, you should NOT quit. Here are five reasons why I believe this.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday Review—More About Scrivener, Part 2

by Lynn Blackburn

Last week, we took a look at the three main views in Scrivener—the Document View, the Corkboard View, and the Outliner View. You can read last week’s post if you missed it, More About Scrivener, Part 1 here.

This week, I’m going to touch on a few more features that I love—and I think you might, too.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Social Media Monday—A Social Media Schedule Anyone Can Live With

I'm a glass half-full kind of girl!

You can look at this digital age we live in as a blessing or a curse—and there are merits to each viewpoint. Since I’m a glass half full type girl, I happen to take the positive approach. I like the connectedness of this time and place. I like connecting in person and online—especially through Facebook and Twitter.

A word of warning here, it’s possible to let these tools (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) eat into your writing time. For myself, the way I combat that temptation is to schedule my networking time.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Life Lessons—Tools for the Journey

The writer's path is tough, and takes some special tools

Being a writer is tough—rewarding—but tough. After a particularly difficult rejection (and aren’t they all) my husband held me while I sobbed, and had this to say, “Why couldn’t you have wanted to be something easy, like a movie star?”

His tongue in cheek remark had a good bit of the truth in it. And truly, if you can get by without writing you probably should. For the rest of us, this journey requires some coping skills. Many are acquired along the path, but some you can stock up on in advance. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday Review—More about Scrivener, Part 1

by Lynn Blackburn

Last year, I reviewed the writing software Scrivener when the PC version was still in beta form. Mac users have had Scrivener for years, but I’m not bitter. Nope. Not at all.

I gladly paid to upgrade to the full version ($40) as soon as it became available and I’m happy to report that everything I said last year remains true. I LOVE SCRIVENER!

Scrivener, in my humble and not at all expert opinion, is a far superior way of writing a novel than opening up a Word document and diving in. (Be sure to read my previous posts—ScrivenerPart 1 and Scrivener Part 2—to get an overview of the program).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Learn How to Earn a Living as a Freelance Writer, Part 8—Valuable Online Resources for Freelance Writers

As I finish up my series on How to Earn a Living as a Freelance Writer, I want to give you a list of resources to help you apply what you've learned. These are sites I go to when looking for freelance writing jobs. Be advised though, things change quickly on the Internet and, although I’ve checked and double-checked the information, I cannot make any guarantees.


Online Newsletters and Valuable Writing Groups:

Job Boards:
Be smart when applying for work online.

Work for Hire Publishers:
It will take some digging to find the information you need to apply as an author for one of these companies, but well worth the effort.
Now it's your turn to contribute. What resources for freelance writers have you found?

Dont' forget to join the conversation!

If you've missed any of the series, here is the list of posts, complete with direct links:

Part 7 — http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com/2012/09/learn-to-earn-living-as-freelance.html
Part 8 — http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com/2012/10/learn-how-to-earn-living-as-freelance.html

Monday, October 1, 2012

Social Media Monday—Add a Favicon to Your Blogger Blog

Adding a custom Favicon in your Blogger address is a lot easier than you might imagine. Not sure what a Favicon is? The word Favicon is an adaption of the phrase, Favorite Icon. It’s that tiny little image located to the left of your URL. In the screenshot below I have a PINK arrow pointing at mine.

Screenshot of my Favicon

You can use a PNG or JPEG file to make your favicon. I’ll take you step-by-step through the process for Blogger and the FREE version of WordPress.

Steps to Add Your Favicon
First you’ll need to create an image to use as your favicon. You can use a jpeg image, but it needs to be cropped so it is exactly square and not more than 100 kb.

If you want to use a created image, you’ll need to use Microsoft paint or a related type of software. Just remember, the actual size of the image will be about one eighth of an inch square, so use something easy to see.

After you’ve created your image, save it to your computer.

Login to your Blogger Dashboard and go to the LAYOUT tab. In the upper left side of the screen you’ll see a place to add/edit your Favicon. (See screenshot below).

Screenshot of Layout pane of my blog

Click on EDIT and upload the file. Now click SAVE, then, before you exit the layout window be sure to click SAVE ARRANGEMENT. That’s all there is to it. You may need to wait a few minutes before your Favicon shows up on the Internet, but it will appear.

Let me know how it works and if you have any questions.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!